150 Movies in 90 Days: Oblivion

May 23- #3, Oblivion

Tom Cruise and post-apocalyptic sci-fi make a pretty effective team. 

Tom knew he should have made that left turn at Albuquerque

You've gotta support your small town movie theater, and with Oblivion looking pretty good for a movie that stars someone who's a) like 50 years old, and b) bat-shit crazy, I thought I'd give it a chance.

My problem with Tom Cruise at this point is that he's Tom Cruise. You can't watch a gif of a guy jumping up and down on Oprah Winfrey's couch and shooting lasers at her while laughing maniacally and then simply go back to watching his films like nothing happened. You can't see a guy give a lecture to Matt Laurer on prescription drugs in the most uncomfortable, awkward interviews since the previous interview Tom Cruise did, and then go back to suspending your disbelief as he attempts to slide back into his charming action hero spot as if nothing ever happened.

To my surprise, though, Oblivion wasn't bad.

"'Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads!'...I've always wanted to say that."

Let's get the pink elephant out of the way- Cruise was fine in it. He's believable enough as a post-apocalyptic technician left on a devastated Earth to monitor and repair drones before he plans to join the rest of humanity elsewhere. At this point, Cruise has tapped into the Crazy and used it as a powerful force which enables him to buy into whatever he's doing completely. He's unstable, and just as with last year's Jack Reacher, it works.

The plot is pretty good, if unmistakably familiar. If you've seen the excellent Moon, starring Sam Rockwell, you'll be feeling some deja vu as this one gets going. Obviously, it's not a spoiler to say that there's more going on on Earth than meets the eye (the trailer itself shows you this much- oh hi, Morgan Freeman!), but if you've seen Moon you will be suspicious from the beginning, which sort of lessens the impact of the film's rather predictable twists and turns.

Later on, you'll see more than just passing elements of The Matrix, as well. The problem here is that Oblivion, while a serviceable sci-fi/action popcorn flick, couldn't carry either of those films' jock straps in a suitcase, to quote the immortal Wesley Snipes. So while I'm watching Oblivion, I'm spending a lot of time thinking, "Man, I wish I was watching Moon."

It's got what you'd expect- good special effects, some explosions, some fights, and a message preaching a general distrust of our quickly-evolving technology. Besides the mimicry of signature elements of much better films in the genre, the only really negative thing I have to say about Oblivion is that a film that tries to have something to say about concepts like identity or memory should really be more memorable. Grade: B-.

No comments:

Post a Comment